Wallace warns Clarets they have yet to see best of Owls
The Sheffield Wednesday winger locks horns with former club Burnley in a Roses encounter in which cross-county bragging rights are the last thing in the minds of both sets of supporters, with far more pressing matters at stake.
For the Clarets, there is the considerable incentive of moving one point behind second-placed Middlesbrough – albeit having played two games more – and also moving within two points of leaders Hull City, with the East Yorkshiremen having a game in hand.
Regardless of the outcome this evening, what can be conclusively taken as read is that the stars of both Wednesday and Burnley are on the rise.
Both have been afforded a feel-good start to 2016 and while the Owls’ shock weekend FA Cup loss at Shrewsbury was a development few expected, a quick scan at the Championship table is likely to quickly sooth Wednesdayites.
Some shrewd-looking window business, with yesterday’s capture of Aiden McGeady adding to the earlier signings of Jack Hunt, Gary Hooper and Joe Bennett and a number of contract extensions, has added to the optimism at S6.
In the here and now, Wallace is focusing on Wednesday turning an uplifting season into a special one, but he is also mindful of being part of the club’s plans in their 150th anniversary season –and he remains confident he will be sticking around in South Yorkshire.
Wallace, whose current 12-month contract has an option to extend his stay at Hillsborough if it suits all parties, said: “I have that option at the end of the season and I am pretty sure that will kick in.
“When it kicks in, I will be here for next season ready to lace my boots up for what’s next.
“I have not heard anything at the minute. But I am just plugging along trying to play games. I am loving it here; it will happen when it happens.
“They are a great bunch of lads here and we have some really good players and we have signed some good players as well. The future is bright.”
Plenty has been made of Wednesday’s modest record against the Championship’s big-hitters as being one area of deficiency in a campaign in which flaws are somewhat harder to find than in previous seasons.
Wallace acknowledges the observation that the Owls have beaten just one side who are currently in the top nine in Birmingham City, but equally believes that some of the club’s better performances have come against the division’s elite.
One of those arrived on September 12 when by common consent, Carlos Carvalhal’s side were extremely unlucky to lose 3-1 at Burnley, having outplayed tonight’s visitors for large spells.
Regardless of that particularly outcome on his first return to Turf Moor, Wallace believes that autumnal afternoon proved a positive turning point in the club’s season – while being anxious that points and performance marry up together this evening.
He said: “We had just signed Barry Bannan and (Fernando) Forestieri had just come in and we played some good stuff.
“We clicked on that day and since then, have gone on leaps and bounds. Even though we got beat, that was the turning point for us.
“It was a tough game as they got two goals at the end. But that’s what they do; they work hard and have some good players and know how to win. It’s a good quality to have.”
On tonight’s game – the first half of a big week in the Owls’ league season with a visit to play-off candidates Birmingham coming up at the weekend – he added: “It probably won’t define our season, but mentally if we can get good results in the next few games against teams around and about us, it will be a good statement to make for the second half of the season.
“We have played really well against the teams above us at the start of the season and probably the best performances of the season have been against these teams, but we have just not managed to get that winning goal.
“That is a marker we want to put right in the second half of the season.
“Burnley are a really good team and they have kept most of their players as well and that’s why they are doing really well this season.
“I think they will be (getting) automatic promotion this year. Anything less than that, I think they will be disappointed.”
Last six: Sheffield Wednesday WWWWDL; Burnley DWWWWL.
Referee: A Woolmer (Northamptonshire).
Last time: Sheffield Wednesday 1 Burnley 2; August 10, 2013; Championship.